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California Senate passes SB 679 to address earthquake safety

California Senate passes SB 679 to address earthquake safety

Californians can get $3,000 grants to retrofit homes for earthquake safety

A California bill to address earthquake safety in earthquake-prone areas passed the California State Senate, but a separate bill has cleared its first hurdle in the California Assembly.

SB 679, which passed the Senate by the narrowest of margins on Tuesday, includes funding to retrofit residential and commercial buildings for seismic safety. The bill was initially passed by the Senate on January 29, 2016, after Senator Mike McGuire introduced it.

“It is important to have a statewide bill like this,” McGuire said. “There are 1,000 earthquake-prone California communities of over 50,000 people throughout California. This is the first state bill of its kind at the state level that’s going to address earthquake-related issues.”

McGuire was referring to the fact that building regulations in California are so complex and so layered that it can be difficult to keep up the required state standards.

In many areas, it is simply not possible for builders to meet earthquake standards.

“This is about giving local governments the tools to develop communities that meet those needs,” said McGuire, who chairs the Senate Committee on Housing, Community Development, and Community Safety and is also chairperson of the Senate Committee on Technology, Innovation and Research.

McGuire testified that the earthquake and weather hazards in seismic-prone areas include: water main breakage, foundation damage, roof failures, structural damage, broken windows, fallen objects, trees, and power line damage.

The bill will also require that any communities that are considered earthquake-stricken by the California Seismic Safety Commission (CSSC) must build, repair, or retrofit to maintain state seismic standards.

If a community fails to meet the standards, they will face a penalty of up to $10,000 per violation and/or a minimum penalty of $1,

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